My friend Roisin Cossar writes on The Conversation about the recent floods in Venice:
The city of Venice was recently hit by the worst flooding in more than 50 years. Water in the lagoon that surrounds the city rose 1.87 metres higher than normal, very close to the peak levels of the disastrous flood of Nov. 4, 1966. High winds of nearly 100 kilometres an hour made the situation even worse.
The city’s pedestrian streets became rushing rivers of brackish water, boats were thrown onto walkways and the crypt of the basilica of San Marco was submerged. The damage is still being tallied, but the mayor currently estimates restoration costs at more than 1 billion euros. As a historian of Venice who has spent long periods living and working in the city, I followed the stories of the damage with growing sadness and dismay.
Then I reminded myself that the international community has always responded with great concern to cataclysms in Venice. Assistance from across the world in the aftermath of the 1966 flood allowed the restoration of dozens of damaged monuments, paintings and sculptures, as well as the creation of foundations that still work to benefit the city’s artistic treasures.
Why does Venice attract so much international attention compared to other cities? I’ve been pondering this question. The city is an undeniably beautiful place, and many tourists remark on the haunting lights and sounds of a city built entirely on water, with no vehicular traffic.
But Venice is also a place with a long tradition of convincing outsiders of its uniqueness. This tradition may continue to shape the way the world sees the city today, and could be what ends up helping the city survive.
More at the link.